The crossbow is a versatile piece of equipment owned by many hunting enthusiasts. Using a crossbow to hunt offers the individual a unique and challenging experience that hunting with a rifle cannot. You’ve most likely found yourself looking at this guide for one of two reasons.
- Maybe you’ve noticed that you’re steering away from firearms and seeking traditional hunting methods which require more skill
- or possibly you want to experience the excitement of archery hunting but cannot draw a regular bow.
Whatever your reason is for wanting to invest in a crossbow we’re here to assist you in finding the best crossbow for you. Our detailed guide will explore the different types of crossbows and what sets one apart from the next.
Following our list of top 10 crossbow reviews you’ll find our crossbow buyer’s guide with considerations you should make before looking to make your purchase.
Best Crossbows 2018 – Breakdown of Core Features
|Model||Length||Width||Weight||Power Stroke||Draw Weight||FPS|
|TenPoint Turbo GT
(Best Crossbow for the Money) Check Price!
|35″||17.5″ / 13.5″||6.5lbs||12.6″||175lbs||360|
|TenPoint Titan SS||35″||21.5″ / 18.5”||6.7lbs||12.5″||175lbs||340|
|Wicked Ridge Invader G3||37.75″||22.6” / 19”||6.6lbs||13.5″||165lbs||330|
|CenterPoint Sniper 370||36.5″||21″ / 18″||7.9lbs||13.5″||185lbs||370|
|Wicked Ridge Invader G3||37.75″||22.6″ / 19″||6.6lbs||13.5″||165lbs||330|
|Barnett Ghost 410 CRT||37.4″||20″||7.3lbs||15.38″||185lbs||410|
|Stryker Katana 360||20″||20″ / 17.5″||6.5lbs||13″||150lbs||360|
|Ravin R15 Predator
(Editor’s Choice)Check Price!
|34.5″||10.5″ / 6″||6.9lbs||13″||195lbs||425|
|Killer Instinct SWAT||29″||14″||6.9lbs||17.5″||165lbs||385+|
So what exactly makes a crossbow differ from a regular bow?
Simply put, a crossbow is basically a version of a rifle, without the gunpowder. It is a handheld weapon which sends a projectile towards a target. It can also be described as an archery weapon that has a mounted riser attached to a rigid stock.
In contrast, the regular bow, otherwise known as ‘hand-drawn bow’ requires the archer to engage their entire body to make an accurate shot. A hand-drawn bow typical has a draw weight that is less than half of a crossbow. It weighs less and is much easier to draw whereas a crossbow either must be drawn by a mechanical (hand crank) system or an assisted cocking device.
One of the main differences you’ll notice is the accuracy between a hand-drawn bow and a crossbow. The crossbow has a consistent anchor point where the arrow sits in the same spot every time. The traditional bow requires a great deal of training in order to accurately and consistently make a good shot.
Types of Crossbows
The type of crossbow you end up buying should be the one that feels best for you. Ultimately, you will be the one using it therefore you’ll need to ask yourself which environment you plan to shoot in as well as which features are vitally important to you.
1. Recurve Crossbow
Also know as a traditional style crossbow, this type of crossbow has a very basic design and is praised by many for being virtually maintenance free. You can visually tell it apart from other bows by its tips that curve away from the archer.
- Less moving parts: Easier to maintain on your own without the need to take into a bow shop.
- Lighter: Easier to transport.
- Price: Less costly than its compound crossbow counterpart.
- Slower: Propels bolts at a slower speed.
- Wider: Makes maneuvering more difficult.
- Service life: When the bow is cocked, the trigger mechanism holds the entirety of the weight; over time, this has an effect on longevity.
- More difficult to cock: A cocking aid device can be used
2. Compound Crossbow
Known for being more powerful and faster, the compound crossbow has a narrow frame and powerful pulley system which lends itself to a larger potential energy in the bolt. Many favor this model as it is quieter than a recurve crossbow and has a smaller profile, making them easier to maneuver. The compound crossbow is distinguishable by its risers which face the shooter, and the limbs that point away from the shooter. In this type of crossbow the cams are more exposed, being placed in front of the crossbow.
- Speed: Increased speed resulting in increased accuracy. With the same bow strength, the compound crossbow will shoot faster than a recurve.
- Quieter than a recurve crossbow.
- Mobility: Lighter limbs resulting in greater mobility.
- Weight on nose: This makes shouldering the bow more awkward.
- Maintenance: Requires maintenance in a bow shop.
What makes a good crossbow?
Over the last 20 years, Crossbows have make huge advancements in design and functionality and as a result more people have taken an interest in switching over to this hunting weapon. Simply put, a good crossbow is one that suits your needs best. Stay tuned near the end of our guide to find out what must haves are essential in a crossbow. The crossbows featured below are the top makes and models, with varying specs and features, meaning there’ll be an option for everyone!
The Top 10 Best Crossbow Reviews 2018!
TenPoint Turbo GT– The Best Crossbow for the Money
If you’re looking for the best crossbow for the money, you’ll find it inthis ultra compound crossbow by TenPoint. Shooting faster than most compound crossbows, the Turbo GT has been recognized as the winner of the Game & Fish Reader’s Choice Award in 2016.
Best part of this crossbow is they’ve got your safety covered 100%. With glass reinforced safety wings on the stock, situated above the grip, your fingers will be kept clear of danger behind the protective guard.Full of incredible features, extras and built to last! Its Fusion S stock adjusts to 2 fixed positions for the perfect length of pull while the powerful ACRA-ANGLE™barrel launches arrows at an incredible 360 FPS. It has MRX cams and D97 stings and cables, isotoper limbs and can be easily operated by any user. For comfort and ease of shooting, the Turbo GT has been designed with holes in the stock where you can wrap your fingers around for extra grip. This skeleton stock design helps to reduce the overall weight of the crossbow and improve balance.
- Dampener: Additional add on that prolongs the life of the bow by limiting stress and vibrations.
- Cocking device requires no effort to crank.
- Accuracy: Dry-fire inhibitor ensures strings are kept well centered, resulting in an improved accuracy to your shots.
- Arrows: Arrows are quite expensive as compared to competitor products.
- Setup: The restrung bow must be installed by the buyer; crossbow reviewers comment on this step as being complicated if you fail to read and understand the procedure before beginning.
As with the above model by TenPoint, the Titan SS is equipped with the Fusion S stock system with adjustable comb height along with a two-position butt plate. These features make it possible to customize the length of pull.
The trigger on this model has been placed further down the stock to boost performance. For comfort and confidence while handling, the skeletonize stock design with finger guards provide extra safety to the archer.
- Accuracy: Equipped with accuracy enhancing features.
- Compact design.
- Cocking device not included.
- No Arrows included.
Welcome what many are calling the best of the best, the Invader G3 by Wicked Ridge, designed and built with a solid quality of construction. With all the included essentials, you’ll be set and ready to shoot right after assembly.
Built with a focus on the newest technologies and tested for performance and durability in the U.S.A, the Invader G3 is one of the best crossbows on the market today. As a winner of several awards such as the Outdoor Life Great Buy, the Invader G3 with the ACUdraw cocking device is making their name heard loud and clear.
- Assembly: Easy, straight-forward assembly.
- Speed Fast bolt speed.
Finally a bow that is perfect for women, smaller framed individuals or those with bad backs. This is a great bow for anyone wanting to start out or for those intermediates in the bunch. Able to take down many types of game, the Barnett Recruit is powerfully accurate. Designed to be compact and lightweight, this crossbow holds 80 foot pounds of energy and shoots at 300 FPS.
With this model, be sure to apply the included lubewax to the strings, cables, and flight track before cocking the crossbow. Also, remember to purchase suitable arrows such as Barnett 20” carbon arrows to ensure you do not damage the other parts of the crossbow while shooting.
- Red Dot: sign included.
- Adjustable butt stock.
- Passthrough Foregrip
- The standard carbon bolts aren’t the most durable; consider replacing with a heavier bolt
As the name suggests, you’ll be right on point like a sniper with this compound crossbow. Take down big game with confidence thanks to the accuracy and precision CNC-machined aluminum rail and cam system which delivers high powered speeds of around 370 FPS. Design features make it easy to handle, light and durable thus allowing for better maneuverable.
Thanks to integrated string suppressors, you’ll be able to enjoy a quiet and vibration free shot. Additional features are its anti-dry fire and auto-safety trigger. Both act by preventing unintentional shots. If you’re looking for high quality and the best crossbow for the money you can finally afford, the CenterPoint Sniper 370 will not disappoint.
- Adjustable stock
- Passthrough foregrip
- Great trigger
- Optics aren’t the best but they are sufficient to get the job done.
- Bolts are not of the highest quality.
As you’ll notice, this model is the Multi-line version of #3 in our list, also 100% made in the US. The main difference between the two models is that the Invader G3 uses the ACUdraw cocking system while the Multi-line utilizes the ACU-52.
This compound crossbow is the fastest, most lightweight, narrow, and safe crossbow from the Wicked Ridge line. For an extra bonus, it has a sleek and integrated self retracing rope cocking system which reduces the draw weight by 50%.
- Dry-fire inhibitor
- Incredible accuracy
- Noted as being louder than other models; this problem can be resolved with a dampening system.
Lighter and faster than the previous model, the Ghost 400, the Barnett Ghost 410 is built with a variety of impressive features, making it one of the most loved in crossbow reviews. Differentiating themselves from the competition with their Carbonlite Riser Technology (CRT). With their patent protected technology, the crossbow is able to shift balance points from the riser back to the shooter’s shoulder, allowing a perfect balance of speed and weight.
Design features include a CNC machined aluminium flight track and Picatinny rail, composite laminated limbs, a Crosswire string and cable system, and the option to integrate a crank cocking device.
Some things to remember with this model is that it is advisable to wax the strings every 10 shots to maintain longevity.
- Carbonlite Riser: ultralight, incredibly strong, 43% lighter.
- Passthrough foregrip
- Finger guard
- Does not come with a sound dampening system.
- Scope is sufficient but you’ll probably want to upgrade.
Many crossbow reviews claim there’s no other substitute. Although the Ravin appears near the end of our top 10 best crossbow reviews, it’s by no means any less superior than our number 1. What makes this bow boldly different is its use of Helicoid technology.
The rifle-like design has several advantages that provide incredible accuracy in every shot. Along with this consistent accuracy, the combination of speed and power to this bow is unmatched in the industry.
As far as ease of use, the design makes it significantly smaller and much narrower than the standard crossbow and thus the R15 Predator is extremely maneuverable.
- Built in cocking mechanism.
- Anti-Dry Fire / Auto Safety
- Built-in Sling Mounts
- Expensive option but well worth the investment.
Introducing the fastest and shortest crossbow available today and not to mention one of the quietest! The Killer Instinct SWAT uses technology which combines balance, power and durable design into the next greatest ‘Sub-Compact’ bow. This tactical package produces speeds greater than 385 feet per second with a draw weight of only 165lbs.
The use of concealed string technology allows the compression of the string into the barrel; it also acts as a comfortable place to rest your cheek. There are two main functions of the CNC double barrel system. One is to act as a vibration and noise suppressor, while the other allows the strings to float freely between the two barrels to eliminate possible friction and improve on accuracy.
- Sniper grade trigger.
- Included Hawke XB30 optic.
- Noise & vibration silencers.
- Doesn’t come with field tips for the arrows.
- The scope only has red reptile dots, no green.
Crossbow Buyers Guide
A common misconception from individuals looking to buy a crossbow is that they need the latest and greatest in order to make the best shot. Hunting equipment isn’t going to be cheap but then again, you don’t need to break the bank in order to find the best crossbow for you. Take a look below at the essentials covered for what your crossbow should have. Although there are other considerations you should pay attention to, these are the most important.
There are many things you will need to consider in regards to performance and design, before purchasing your crossbow however, the most important consideration to make before them all is to safety.
Draw Weight / Poundage
The type of game you plan on hunting will determine the amount of draw weight you require. By basic standards, to hunt a whitetail deer, you should look for a crossbow with a draw weight of no less than 150lbs although 175-200 lbs is preferred. For moose or elk, a draw weight of no less than 225lbs is advised.
More important than speed is the point of impact where your make your shot, thereof a crossbow that is able to show consistency in accuracy should be a consideration high on your list. The accuracy and scope of the shot will depend greatly on the power behind the shot and the draw weight of the crossbow.
Ease of use is vital to being able to effectively use you crossbow which is why cocking method should be of high consideration.
Remember: If you have problems cocking a crossbow, its best to go with a system that assists the process.
The feet per second (FPS) at which the bow travels is vitally important to reaching your target with precision and accuracy. On average you want to look for a crossbow that shoots roughly 305 FPS. You’ll want a fast arrow speed if you plan to kill your target with one shot.
This is not a make or break it feature but if you are planning to buy a more expensive model, the scope that comes with it should be more than adequate. Since you will most likely only be using the scope for shots of between 10-40 yard a magnification of 4x is usually best to suit all of these situations. The scope light will either be red or green, some have the option of both with the change of a switch. Look for a scope that performs well in low light.
Last but not least, the materials used will ensure durability which is why you want to make sure your crossbow is made from high quality materials in the limbs, strings, slights, bolts, stock, arrows and all other components. All parts of the crossbow will need to function harmoniously together which is why they all must be of the highest quality.
User Maintenance Tips + Things to Remember
It’s not always easy finding the best crossbow for the money you are willing to spend, and one that is tailored specifically to your needs. The process may seem overwhelming at first when shopping for the best crossbow but just remember that if you choose one that feels right, you won’t go wrong. Whether it is a recurve or a compound crossbow, make sure it is build and designed with high quality materials, has proven consistency in performance, is accurate and finally, is easy for you to cock. The ideal crossbow for hunting will be one that has a higher draw weight, fast arrow speed and is lightweight; all of which are characteristics our top 10 crossbow models above share. Choose the right crossbow, take care of it through proper use and maintenance and we’re confident you’ll have a tool to last you through the years.